It feels like we've been waiting for Robert Stephenson's big league debut for eons, but the reality is that the Cincinnati Reds 1st round pick from 2011 won't turn 23 years old until later this month. Still, there are heavy expectations on his shoulders, since that's what happens when you're the top prospect in a team's system for the better part of two dismal big league seasons. Sam Dykstra of MiLB.com caught up with the highest ranked arm in on the Reds farm to talk about 2016, a year that in all likelihood will include the first big league start of Bob Steve's career. It's clear that Stephenson's mind is in the right place to claim a spot in what should be a crowded Reds rotation, and since his electric arm is already fully qualified, nothing but finding the strike zone in Louisville for a few months seems to be standing in the way of that happening. Something tells me we'll all be giddy long after he finally makes his debut, too.
Also from MiLB.com: a look at prospect projections for the NL Central rookies most likely to make an impact in 2016 (by way of Steamer projections from FanGraphs). Not so sure I concur with their Reds findings, but have a look for yourself.
The crew over at CBSSports.com has spent the last two weeks revealing their Top 15 MLB players by position for 2016, and it's a quite interesting thing to look at if you're a fan of the overall game of baseball. If you're just a Reds fan, well, here's the link to their 1B rankings, since Joey Votto is the one and only Reds player to make any of the lists in any capacity (though you'll find a few former Reds on there).
Speaking of former Reds, Jonny Gomes recently agreed to a deal to play baseball in Japan for the 2016 season, and he wrote about his decision for The Players' Tribune. As you'd expect, it's quintessential Jonny with both passion and flair, and it gives great insight into his thought process. Good luck, Jonny, and I hope I can make it back over to watch you play sometime this year.
Yahoo's Jeff Passan went in depth yesterday on the 40th anniversary of the court ruling that led to free agency in baseball, and it's 100% worth reading. Well...again, it's worth reading if you're a fan of the overall game of baseball, since the Reds have sat idly by during baseball's $2.5 billion offseason shopping spree by only doling out a paltry $600,000 or so to Blake Wood. Still, it's hard to imagine there being any decision that's come down in the game's history since that moment that's had a bigger impact on the development of the game.
Finally, the McPaper spoke with Ken Griffey, Jr. about being blindsided twice with devastating news while with the Reds back in 2006 - finding out that both of his parents were fighting cancer at the same exact time. It's clear that Junior's parents have played a very large role in his life both on the baseball field and off it, something that The Enquirer's C. Trent Rosecrans echoed in January while recalling a conversation with Griffey after learning his own mother had a similar diagnosis as Griffey's mother, Birdie. That all dovetails with today, Thursday, being World Cancer Day, and it's a stark reminder of two very important things. Firstly, the players we follow, watch, write about, and complain about aren't robots immune to the vagaries of life, they're people who get stuck waking up to awful things just like we all do. And secondly, cancer sucks, and while we've yet to figure out a singular way to end its godawfulness, one way you can certainly help is to help raise awareness as often as possible. For more on World Cancer Day (and how you can do something to get involved), check here.